Print 110 comment(s) - last by JPForums.. on Mar 24 at 10:44 AM

The end is near for all-you-can-eat broadband plans

If you are an AT&T DSL or U-Verse customer and just so happen to be an extreme data hog, your reign of terror will soon be over. DSL Reports is indicating that AT&T plans to implement new data caps on customers starting May 2 (notices will be sent to customers between March 18 and March 31).

The data caps will be set at 150GB for DSL customers and 250GB for U-Verse customers. As somewhat of a token gesture to customers, the bandwidth limit can be exceeded twice over the life of your account without ill effect. However, overage fees will be put in place upon the third time that your monthly data allotment is exceeded. 

Overage fees will be $10 for every 50GB that you go over the limit. However, AT&T will send notices to customers at the 65, 90, and 100 percent data cap thresholds, so there should be no excuse for customers to not know when they are approaching their monthly limits.

AT&T already imposes data limits on its wireless plans, so this move to landline data connections should come as no surprise. Like its wireless data caps, AT&T cites a small minority of customers that hog a disproportionate amount of bandwidth.

"The top 2 percent of residential subscribers uses about 20 percent of the bandwidth on our network," said AT&T in a statement to Engadget. "Just one of these high-traffic users can utilize the same amount of data capacity as 19 typical households."

If you're used to an all-you-can-eat buffet when it comes to online video streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, it looks as though those days are slowly coming to an end.

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By JPForums on 3/24/2011 10:44:18 AM , Rating: 2
Correct. Companies don't sell bandwidth with the intention of providing it 100% of the time. In fact, AT&T clearly states that you'll get up to X Mbps. Phone companies, internet companies, and other companies dealing with such networks first decide at what probability they wish to maintain their service. I.E. What percentage of time do I have to maintain services at or near the specifications before my customers come head hunting. They then use stochastic models to see how much bandwidth they can sell on the network infrastructure before crossing that line.

The problem is that marketing and management tend to arbitrarily adjust these precisely calculated figures to their liking. On top of that, they are neither willing to leave a reasonable amount of bandwidth unallocated for potential customers nor willing to turn away customers once their limit is reached until they can expand their infrastructure. The perception of overselling bandwidth comes from setting the probability too low and/or taking on customers they are ill-equipped to handle (even if only temporarily).

The other major (in my opinion much larger) issue people have is the fact that bandwidth caps are double dipping. Your road example is a good one. It should be expected that there will be times of congestion, though this is much easier to alleviate on networks given the available tools. However, I'm fairly certain we would see more than a little public dissension if we were suddenly told we could only drive 1500 miles a month before incurring fines. They might say things like 2% of people drive 20% of the distance on roads, but that isn't going to mean much to the guy who lives 40 miles from work. Also, this makes no concession for temporarily high usage. I.E. roadtrips become more problematic.

I don't even agree with the idea of metered service in the first place. Utility companies own the utility they are metering. They basically charge you X amount for their product + some fixed cost to facilitate delivery and maintenance of said product. Since the internet company doesn't own the data you are transferring over the pipes, I have issue with them charging anything more than the delivery and maintenance.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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